Popsicles

[Discusses cancer and end-of-life issues.]


[Emma Thompson as Vivian Bearing and Audra McDonald as Susie Monahan in Margaret Edson's Wit.]

I’m sharing this for a number of reasons, none of which I can articulate eloquently or fully. But –

I recently saw this — the entirety of the play — live in the theatre with my mom.** Her husband — my dad — and her father — my grandfather — both died of cancer. Though I was largely absent from my dad’s last days, I was very much there for my grandpa’s. She was there for both.

This is my favorite scene in the play. Maybe because it’s the time when Vivian is craving humanity and kindness, which speaks to the non-academic softie in me. But I also have strong memories of the exact types of popsicle portrayed here. Growing up, it was expected that someone with such a popsicle — of the two-sticked variety — would break it apart to share it. To do so was to establish a connection to someone else; to refuse to share was considered supremely selfish. I have memories of my sister and me each getting a whole one — different flavors — and each trading half with the other — not because I particularly liked grape or she lime, but because that is what you did with these. They were for sharing.

I’ve read the play, I’ve seen the play, I’ve seen the movie a couple times before.

This time, I sat — watching the play, watching my mom — freely (but quietly) bawling. During the other times, I might have teared up or I might have not, but there was always a modicum of control: I will not cry now.

Not this time, and the catharsis felt good.

The snot coming from my nose because I forgot the Kleenex, however? More awkward, less good.

**And my partner, but the mom relationship is what I want to talk about here.

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